The New Times (Kigali)

30 January 2013

Rwanda: Ministry Clarifies On Mutuelle Fees

The government targets to use Rwf31 billion as annual Mutuelle de Sante medical insurance fees for the year 2012 - 2013. The announcement was made by Elias Bayingana, the director general of National Budget in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

Bayingana was addressing journalists along with the Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Health, Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana, and the in charge of Health Insurance, Andrew Makaka.

Bayingana said 70 per cent of the Rwf31 billion will be contribution from beneficiaries, while 30 per cent will come from the government and support from donors.

So far, the government has already paid over Rfw7.2 billion for vulnerable people, who cannot afford to pay for themselves.

About 69.5 per cent of Rwandans have already paid health insurance fees for 2012 -2013.

"No Rwandan should say they are not able to afford health insurance since they have been categorised depending on the capability to pay," Bayingana said on Tuesday.

He was responding to the concerns that the rise in payment from Rwf 1,000 to Rwf3,000 and Rwf7,000, since 2010 has caused low payment.

The officials also dismissed concerns that poor services rendered by health facilities were a result of arrears yet to be paid by hospitals to district pharmacies.

According to Ndagijimana, the arrears of the previous years have already been cleared, with only Rwf 2.3 billion from 2010- 2011 remaining.

"The money which should be paid as arrears has no impact on medical services which are being delivered as it is not related to the budget. The money we have as health insurance budget is enough and we have no worries about it," said Ndagijimana.

District officials and directors of health insurance who talked to The New Times attributed the low payment rate to various reasons, including the categorisation which placed people in different classes and attitude.

Francoise Mukabugabo, the Huye district director of health insurance, said their sensitisation campaign has fallen on deaf ears.

"It is not because they don't have money to pay but they seem to ignore the role of health insurance," said Mukamugabo, adding, "We have stepped up our campaigns so that people pay soon and we hope that they will pay.

Rulindo district's director of health insurance, Francois Serugendo, dismissed poverty as a lame excuse for not paying since many people find money to spend on luxuries like drinking and lavish weddings.

"The attitude of not paying health insurance should end and people should prioritise their own health other than other things," Serugendo added.

According to Makaka, Karongi district in Western Province leads the list of payment with 91.2 per cent followed by Kamonyi with 87.8 per cent while Nyabihu district in Western Province.

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